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Why Xbox 360 Kinect Needs to Have Apps, Too

You've probably heard about Microsoft's attachment for the Xbox 360 called Kinect, which can sense full body motion and gestures. We ran a computer simulation of what Kinect with an App Store would be like, and we think the results speak for themselves:

The Xbox 360 Kinect may be designed for games, but its true potential lies in Apps. Because Kinect has full-body tracking, gesture recognition, and specialized microphones that are good for hands-free voice recognition, new types of non-game apps that have never been seen anywhere except maybe in Star Trek could come into being. “Computer, show me the best Italian restaurants in North Beach.” Kinect could then show these on the screen, and you could flick through this list with gestures, minority report style. What app is this? Why, Yelp for Kinect, of course.

But it doesn’t stop there. How about a 3D, voice-launched weather app where you can fly through the clouds? Kind of like Weather HD for the iPad but rendered in real time, and with a really compelling UI. How about voice-launched email with gestures? Toss an email over your shoulder to delete it. Swipe to the left or right to bring up the next one. What about automatically noticing someone walked into the living room, using the face recognition to determine who it is, turning on the TV by sending power on commands over the HDMI cable, and then showing notifications that someone just sent them an email, and someone else tweeted at them?

Kinect Yearns for AppsKinect Yearns for Apps

Unfortunately, Microsoft sees the Xbox 360 as only being for games. In particular, they are terrified of reducing consumer sales of Windows. What they should be thinking instead is: this could be something totally new and different, and does not replace your PC but augments it. And what’s more, if they don’t do it, someone else will. Apple is rumored to be releasing a $99 Apple TV 2: an iPhone 4 with no screen that plugs into your HDTV and delivers streaming video content on demand. Google TV has already been unveiled. But these competitors have something Microsoft doesn’t: apps.

But wait, you say, the Xbox 360 already does have an App Store: the Community Games Store. This never produced much of anything, though, even though it was hyped as the “YouTube of games.” The reason? It’s hard for a one-person development operation to make a game because it requires art production, music, etc. But Apps are another story. The majority of iPhone apps are probably made in someone’s garage, and they’re pretty good.

So everyone else has apps, sees the huge potential of apps in the living room, but not Microsoft. Even though they have been making game consoles for nearly 10 years now. Here’s to hoping they get their act together, because it is truly a crying shame that there is not an App store for Kinect.

by Margaret Walker on Fri, 06/25/2010 - 01:55

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